Cork City's FAI Cup dream is over.
The Rebel Army were beaten 2-0 by Saint Patrick's Athletic at a packed Turner's Cross yesterday afternoon, thanks to goals in each half from Mark Doyle and Conor Carty.
City were impressive for much of the first half as they brought the game to the Saints, however they couldn't replicate that performance in the second, with Carty's quite frankly brilliant strike on 81 minutes settling matters and booking a place at the Aviva Stadium against Bohemians in the decider.
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City boss Richie Holland told RedFM Sport afterwards that his side were excellent in the opening 45 minutes, but admitted they were unable to reproduce that form after the break.
"We're devastated. I felt the lads put in a great performance. There was a little mini period in the first half when Pat's started the game well and we cleared one off the line, from the throw in we're not switched on and we're caught again from the cross at the back post, which was disappointing.
"We started the first few minutes OK, then after their goal I felt that we created more than enough to be ahead at half time, when you come to these games it's that killer instinct you need to have and you need to take your chances.
"In fairness to Pat's, the second goal comes from a throw in and we're switched off, Carty has finished it well. It's a half chance, it's a hard technique - he's kept it down well and finished it well.
"In the second half Pat's went into a 2 and 1 in midfield, they were a little more defensive. First half we exploited the spaces on the sides of Lennon, Ben Worman got into good pockets and was able to drive into those spaces. They tightened up a little bit defensively, they were a little bit more structured.
"For us then, it was about having more quality in the wider areas, I felt that we didn't keep the ball alive in second phases. I needed to get the Shed involved in the second half. There was a bit of a lull in the second half, that's whey I made the changes.
"The lads gave it their all at the end of the day, and that's what I asked of them, but it just wasn't enough."
City now turn their attentions to Premier Division survival. The Rebel Army are 9 points behind 8th placed Sligo Rovers with four games to go, and while it's not mathematically impossible for City to finish 8th the reality is they'll be facing into the promotion/relegation play off with one of the first division teams. Holland says it's vital that City remain in the Premier Division.
"I spoke to the players after and said we have to use this as a motivator going forward. We have to stay in this league. That's the bottom line. When you see crowds like that, and the atmosphere, we're one of the biggest clubs in the league, if not the biggest.
"Cork City has to be in the Premier Division. We don't want to be going back down to the first division. For us now that's our main focus going forward - staying in this division.
"It'll take a few days to get over. Pat's were there for the taking today I though, and we just didn't do it and that's the most regretful thing. If it was a bad performance, and it was a case where we didn't create anything you could look at it and say we were poor on the day, but we weren't poor on the day. I just think we didn't take our chances. That's football, isn't it?"
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